A word about our Katrina coverage
I wrote the following for broadcast tonight. We have omitted the names from the e-mails, and they are just a representative sample of what we receive every day:
A necessary word about our coverage of the storm zone— specifically, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the City of New Orleans. Lately, a lot of viewers have felt the need to tell us what they think of our coverage, and we like that and we read them all. And while most of the e-mails we get are from folks wanting to thank us for our coverage, an increasing number do not.
Here are just a few from the past few days:
A viewer in Houston writes, “I was very saddened by the damage caused by the hurricane and certainly support the re-building of New Orleans... but can’t we give this a rest?”
Another viewer writes: “I’m getting just plain sick and tired of hearing the constant drumbeat about New Orleans...”
Still another is even more direct: “ENOUGH. We’re sick and tired of 'the long road back.'"
Again, that’s the minority view, but enough people feel that way to prompt us to say the following:
Our Katrina coverage started before Katrina arrived on shore. We were in the Superdome for the storm, and then watched what happened in New Orleans during that awful week. We have gone back many times, including this past Monday, and we’ve gone to Mississippi. We’ve covered the struggle in Florida and along the Texas coast, as we cover any event that causes human suffering.
Katrina is different. Katrina displaced 2 million Americans. It destroyed 350,000 homes. Not all the bodies have yet been found. It exposed cracks in our society, and it has us talking about race and class, and money and relief. It affected what we pay for gas, and may affect what we pay in taxes. It literally re-arranged the map of the Gulf Coast. There are many heroes, but no one villain.
Tonight, one of the great American cities is partially in ruins, and many of our fellow citizens are hurting and have nothing left. In some places, nothing’s been done yet.
And so, while we are reading the mail, we also have a job to do. And a big story to cover. Along with the news around the nation and the world each day, we intend to keep covering it.
Read more from Brian Williams 2006, NBC's Gulf Coast recovery files
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